Jeremy Hastings: Another crazy week, sunshine, primroses, daffodils, snow, wild wind, rain and hail. Certainly we seem to be in the midst of a mad season. the barnacles are spreading all over with few opportunities to feed, Whitefronts are also in odd places, munching at what they can get too! there have been bird moving northwards - probably just as suprising to themselves as they are to us, namely Fieldfares and Redwing.
Lapwings have been busy displaying and in some areas already on territories and Skylarks have been displaying too, their wonderful song and parachuting behaviour a delight to witness.
Nature watching in foul weather is always a test. Even more so if one has clients too. However on Saturday it was just that. The wind ripped across the isle and rain and hail were pushed along biting hard at every turn. The art when this happens is to make sure the folks who are with you have an excellent time whatever. Finding places where birds will be needs to show a recall that is not always easy. However we did find some sheltered places that gave superb results. (I am hopefully, not showing off here - just trying to explain that guiding has it's own difficulties , loses and wins as any other work!) So you imagine the delight of all when sheltering in the lee of a rather large Whin(gorse) bush we were able to observe several pairs of lapwing doing the spring thing in the teeth of a gale! A mass of starlings drifted over - the motorcycle gang of the bird world - and, on occasions, when the wind slowed, Skylarks were up and singing. For those moments all was well with the world. Continue reading......Later on we also had a similar experience with a Golden Eagle but this time much closer - close enough to see plumage detail and the way the wind ruffled feathers but not he bird itself. Incredible.
I love watching Chough and their antics and although most time you have to go to quite remote places the opportunity presented itself this week on Uiskentuie Strand. I noticed them as I was cycling along and nonchalantly stopped and watched. the were so busy searching for grubs that they totally ignored me till they were but ten metres from me. Traffic passed, the cyclist stood still and so did time for that moment. The Choughs and I eyeballed each other and then, as if in mutual agreement, we both set off. Magic.
The pale bellied brent geese have been back and forth along from Foreland Road end to Bruichalddich a wee family busying themselves with the Eel grass (Zostera) and looking magnificent with velvet like plumage in the wet winter/spring sunshine. They will soon have had enough and like our other winter visitors be thinking of moving northwards shortly.
The southerly wind needs to blow first of all but, rest assured we have a few more weeks of this wildness still to come!
Other relevant Islay Wildlife and Birding Information Resources:
- Jeremy's News Blog
- Previous Islay nature reports By Jeremy Hastings
- Islay Seasonwatch by Teresa Morris
- Islay Birds blog by Ian Brook
- Islay Birder blog by John Armitage